What does it mean to "know"?

In Yoga, direct perception is the highest means of gaining knowledge .

When we share ideas, we are using words to explain how different concepts and objects fit together. However, each person has a slightly different inner image when referring to say, “moon”.

When we hear the word “moon” each person registers in their own inner screen of memory and inference what “moon” means to them.

Therefore, even though it appears we are talking about the same thing, we are actually perceiving (and creating) a completely different reality.

This is especially true in conversations. We’ve all had moments of difficulty communicating - like the person simply doesn’t understand what we are saying. They may nod and say yes, but we feel the disconnect. Why is that? The yogis would say it is due to the reason we are discussing.

Yoga states that the idea, the word, and the thing itself are all subtly different things. They exist at different levels. The idea of moon, the word moon, and the moon itself all have their own separate reality. It is said that the supreme Reality is the thing itself without any commentary. As soon as the mind imposes itself upon the scene, we are starting to separate ourselves from the Reality and create mental concepts ABOUT reality. This separation might serve its purposes, but it remains true that is puts a subtle space between talking or thinking about the thing , and the thing itself. The problem arises when this sequence of events leads to distortions to the Truth.

The only remedy to this error in perception is by reverting back to the most primitive of ways of being - direct knowing. This means of knowing could be explained as “knowing without the story”. There is nothing needed to be said about the moon. Even the word “moon” does not suffice. What must happen instead is that the experiencer and the experience itself merge and therefore the thing can be truly known. This is direct intimacy with life. The union of the seer with the seen.

Understanding this process helps us get clear about how we want to navigate through life. We can either move about our lives, taking other people’s word for everything, reading about it in books, hearing it from the news, or otherwise receiving “second order” information and allowing that to form what we “know” to be true. OR, we can strive for a simple existence, one in which all that we “know” can be known now in each moment, as life is constantly arising and arriving before us and all that is required is for us to be present and respond to it. The challenge of living this way as that initially it feels so counter intuitive. It feels this way as the ego, or the rational part of our mind, has no job. We switch from being overly analytical and interpreting everything through the meta-center of the brain, and we start to live in the body and from the body’s intuitive, sensitive nature.

Through yogic practice, we can learn to stabilize the mind. Then, the mind can become sensitive to prana, or energy. As this happens, we switch over from being mind-dominated beings to becoming energy-responsive beings. This subtle switch leads to a greater overall awareness of life, a deeper intimacy with our surroundings, and ultimately more connectedness with all things.

Enough talk. Let's practice.

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